New York City could soon ban most solitary confinement in city jails, NPR reports. A new measure, passed on a 39 to 7 vote -- with enough votes to override a veto from Mayor Eric Adams -- bans the use of solitary confinement beyond four hours except during certain emergencies. All city-run jails would also be required to allow every detained person to spend at least 14 hours outside of their cells each day. The permitted four-hour period of solitary allowed under the ban would be for "de-escalation," in situations where a detainee has caused someone else physical harm or risks doing so.
The United Nations has said solitary confinement can amount to torture, and multiple studies suggest its use can have serious consequences on a person's physical and mental health, including an increased risk of PTSD, dying by suicide, and having high blood pressure. Black and Hispanic men have also been found to be overrepresented among those placed in solitary confinement – as have gay, lesbian and bisexual people. The New York resolution comes amid scrutiny over deaths in the jail complex on Rikers Island. Last month, the federal government joined efforts to wrest control of the facility from the mayor.